LARC – Providing Adults with Disabilities with Life Skills & Workforce Training

For nearly six decades, the Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center (LARC) has remained steadfast in its mission of providing work training and life-skill enrichment for adults with disabilities.

Through its community access services, LARC offers its consumers with activities designed to improve self-help, socialization, and adaptive skills to become more engaged within the community and function more independently at home.

“Our consumers are learning basic life skills,” said Dr. Harry Hamm, LARC executive director. “We also take them out into the community to interact and experience new things.”

While they are at the center, consumers participate in games, listening to music, and other activities that helps with socialization.

“We are providing a safe haven,” Hamm said, “LARC is a place they can come during the day and be cared for and enjoy being with other people.”

Based on individual choice and ability, LARC consumers can participate in prevocational and supportive employment services.

As part of prevocational services, work is performed within the LARC facility and includes basic production tasks like assembling components for local manufacturing industries.

“Some of our adults are building bathtub parts for Jacuzzi, for instance, doors that cover motors on bathtubs and vent valves for batteries at SAFT,” Hamm said.

From stacking lumber to busing tables and washing dishes, LARC’s supportive employment services assists about 15 consumers working at various manufacturing and hospitality sites.

“If they can work, and want to work, then we are here to help,” Hamm said. “We provide them with transportation to and from work to ensure they are on time, plus we give them the support they need to be successful at their job.”

Serving as a resource for LARC consumers and local businesses, Hamm said, “Our people can do a lot of jobs that are needed within the community, and often these are jobs that are hard to fill.”

Twenty consumers work at the Recycling Center processing and bailing cardboard that is sold to papermills. The mills make paper and the amount of cardboard produced would be enough to make the equivalent of two million Amazon boxes.

LARC maintains a fleet of 20 vehicles that transport LARC consumers within Lowndes, Echols, Cook, Lanier, Berrien, Brooks, and Tift counties. The transportation staff provides LARC consumers with rides to and from home and the center, and if needed, work sites.

While a significant part of its operating budget is supported through Medicaid and other federal and state programs, LARC also receives allocations from the Greater Valdosta United Way to cover expenses like transportation, food, clothing, and medication.

“One of our consumers, Lori, has been positively impacted by United Way,” Hamm explained. “Lori is in our supported employment program and works a job in the community. LARC assists her with transportation to and from work, as well as assistance in running errands and purchasing groceries.”

Hamm said, “These simple acts are things we take for granted, but because of the United Way, LARC is helping Lori have a successful job and live an independent and fulfilling life.”

In 2021, LARC received funds from the Greater Valdosta United Way Bruce Williams Impact Grant to purchase a Hoya Lift and electric hospital bed.

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